Posts Tagged ‘Cellular’

Tower Climber Down: New Year, New focus, same old story

Not even days after the ProPublica/Frontline story aired a 31-year-old Austin, Tex. tower technician survived a 100-foot fall from a monopole in Southeast Austin on May 16 around 6:20 p.m..

A spokesperson for the Austin, Tex. Police Department has told Wireless Estimator that the 31-year-old tower technician who fell 100 feet off of a monopole was employed by Goodman Networks. They also said that the last report that they had was that Shad Lierley was in stable condition

Police say that 31-year-old Shad Lierley was working on the structure along with at least one other employee when he fell.

He was transported to University Medical Center at Brackenridge.

A spokesperson for the Austin Fire Department said that they and the city’s police department had been told by OSHA not to release any information regarding the incident.

Waverly Kennedy of OSHA’s Austin area office said he could not provide any details regarding the accident. Wireless Estimator has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with OSHA for all details regarding the incident that are able to be provided as well as a copy of all citations to the unnamed contractor, if the agency does find Lierley’s company at fault.

Damage to the waveguide bridge indicates that Lierley hit the structure when he fell. An unconfirmed news report stated that a second tower technician also suffered minor injuries to his hand.

Goodman Networks, Inc. of Plano is the identified turf vendor for the project, issued a stand down for all operations shortly after. The company manages many AT&T projects throughout the nation.

Their request for the immediate training required states that, “This bulletin is being issued as a reminder of the dangers involved in our industry and to remind all of our employees and contractor personnel of the importance of planning safety into every project.”

Goodman is requesting that the stand-down training must be completed by Tuesday.

“Many of our people are off today because they’ve requested it months ago so that they could enjoy a long weekend,” said one Midwest contractor. “With Monday being a holiday how do they expect us to get everybody together on Tuesday? We can’t.”

Another contractor registered concern that Goodman’s stand-down is going to affect schedules for all of the other projects they are committed to on Tuesday.

Stand-downs have been criticized by many in the industry as being reactive to client concerns rather than a proactive approach to safety.

The joint Frontline/ProPublica investigation identified that the fatalities on AT&T projects totaled 15 since 2003 – more than at the other three major carriers combined over the same period.

AT&T ordered a similar stand down in 2008, after two tower climbers died on its projects.

The company would not answer questions about the current stand down, issuing a statement similar to the one it has given ProPublica and PBS “Frontline” for previous stories saying that AT&T outsources tower work “to expert companies, many of which are large publicly traded firms with decades of experience.”

“Worker safety has always been a hallmark of AT&T,” the statement says.

I was part of that 2008 shut down, working out of Jackson TN and Nashville, TN at the time for AT&T. It is supposed to be a time of review, safety training, and thought on how we are doing our jobs. If it is successful in those goals or not is anybodies guess.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Shad Lierley and his family.


Pro Publica/PBS Set to Air Cellular Investigation, again

A while back I mentioned I took part as a resource in a journalistic investigation regarding the cellular industry.

I have high hopes for its success in turning what was and is easily one of the most black market industries out there.

A lot of folks got pretty irate when they delayed the release.

It’s public television people, not prime time. Slots get moved, more information becomes available things get edited. Not to mention the nice lady from Pro Publica contacted me again, so I’m guessing they are doing some more background work for an additional. Whose to say. I might even use my real name. But I digress…

At any rate if you have a moment, or are just curious as to what it is I used to do, or are interested in seeing just how dangerous my and other cellular contractors jobs were, then look no further:

Watch Cell Tower Deaths Preview on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Cell Tower Deaths to take the Frontline

It’s been long over due.

Numerous website’s such as myself, Wireless Estimator and Tower Dogs have talked about the dangers for cell tower climbers time and again.

We’ve documented incidents, and been a grounds eye level view on things that have happened.

Not quite a year ago ProPublica contacted me to ask questions regarding the cellular industry. I sent a lot of E-mails out to my friends and blogging peers asking questions about them before I submitted to the questionnaire. I’ve been out of the cellular business almost two years now, but many of my friends are still in it, and it’s a industry that I spent over a decade working in. It’s a industry like no other, not all of those ways good.

I will tell you that I made a contribution to this.

No you won’t see me on TV.

I a great deal of time answering questions to the best of my ability regarding turf systems, contracts, time tables…all of them as anonymously as I could. Because frankly at the time my career was still at stake.

I don’t feel its at stake any more, as my new job has nothing to do with cellular communications. I also make no apologies for remaining anonymous in my contribution. It’s my life, my family, and my career. The world works a certain way in my experience, but feel free to invite me to your utopia once it materializes.

But I’ll tell you what I told ProPublica, and everyone else I have met, the same thing that I have said for years:  It is probably the most black market industry that I have ever been involved with in my life.

Watch the show when it comes out. Make your own decision.

Tower Climber has fatal 1,000 foot fall: Sixth fatality for 2011

Matthew D. Goodner, 30, of Ford Dodge, Iowa died on Wednesday October 12 in Newton, Mass, the sixth fatality of 2011 in tower related deaths.
Goodner was a contractor who was installing a safety ladder and performing routine maintenance for the tower owner, Boston-based American Tower Corp.  During the installation Goodner was working at approximately the 1,000 foot mark on the 1,253 foot guy-wire tower.

Goodner was a member of a veteran crew of three men, working for Ultimate Tower, a Texas-based company.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of one of our contractors. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and co-workers during this difficult time. We are working closely with the relevant authorities and cooperating fully with all inquiries into the cause of this tragic accident,” said Matt Peterson, vice president of communications for ATC in a statement.

Peterson said the company suspended all work at the site pending a thorough review of the incident.

Although authorities have said the Goodner was at approximately 1,000 feet, Peterson said he had no information regarding the actual height.

Jessica Pastore, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said there were other tower technicians on the tower at the time of the incident, but none of them was injured.

The tower, used by both radio and television stations, is located on Chesnut Street in Newton, near Interstate 95.

American Tower issued a statement saying “We are deeply saddened by the death of one of our contractors. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and co-workers during this difficult time.

“We are working closely with the relevant authorities and co-operating fully with all inquiries into the cause of this tragic accident. We have suspended all work at this site pending a thorough review of this incident.”

Our thoughts go out to Mr Goodners family and friends as well as the crews of Ultimate tower at this time.

LightSquared trying to get squared away

Not to be confused with the Light Radio Cube

For those who don’t know there is a company known as LightSquared attempting to make a break in to the telecommunication market with something a bit different.

LightSquared is building the only national 4G-LTE open wireless broadband network that incorporates nationwide satellite coverage. Supposedly this new network will have a high bandwidth ability for such things like data and applications (something you smart phone users had best be paying very close attention too) Through its wholesale-only business model, those without their own wireless network or who have limited geographic coverage or spectrum can market and sell their own products using the LightSquared network—at a competitive price and without retail competition from LightSquared. Basically, Tom and Joe can form their own cellular network, using LightSquared’s backbone, the same thing you have seen happen in any other areas with Rural telephone landline companies.

But it doesn’t end there

Read the rest of this entry »

Wireless Estimator takes AT&T to task over Turf pricing

There is no doubt about it. Turf pricing is insane.

The Market I ran in the southeast was 100% turf pricing, and every delay came not only out of my budget, but out of my hide. I saw very good companies, with good friends who ran those companies, go under trying to make the system work.

It didn’t.

In 9 months I watched three contracting companies go belly up due to the turf pricing system. I can tell you first hand that their project scheduling is nothing short of nightmarish. It makes my days working for a unnamed giant retailer seem like a cake walk.

That was over a year ago, and now it seems to be getting worse if this latest commentary from Wireless Estimator is any proof.

Each every driver matrix includes a long list of fine print. Grounding includes labor, a set amount of feet of wire, lugs, heat shrink, and a specified list of requirements on how the item should be placed, mounted, positioned and otherwise ran. That just for starters.

The worst part comes with the wonderful “pay when paid” system. In other words the contractor gets paid, when management company gets paid, which is when AT&T decides to pay them.

It’s a ugly situation, but one the editors at Wireless Estimator seem to have grabbed hold of very well.

AT&T used to successfully rely upon qualified contractors to develop and build their sites, emphasizing safety at all costs.

It’s now all about costs. So much so that when tower technicians are seriously injured or killed while working on an AT&T installation, the carrier doesn’t even contact the tower owner for information about the incident.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said yesterday that the carrier’s loss of its iPhone exclusivity has benefited the industry.

The loss of a worker’s life, possibly through pricing and scheduling pressures, benefits no one, Mr. Stephenson.

Go read the rest

Cell towers thing of the past?

Imagine mobile phone base stations no bigger than a golf ball. Imagine not having towers every two to three miles along the interstate, the great steel monoliths I and countless others have helped to erect, climb, establish, tune, and place across the country.

Intro the Light Radio Cube, stage right.

In this undated photo provided by Alcatel-Lucent, Wim Sweldens, the president Alcatel-Lucent's wireless division is seen holding a lightRadio cube, a small cell-phone antenna that can be deployed on lamp posts, buildings, and other places that can't accommodate a full-sized antenna. The cube integrates much of the regular workings of a conventional cell phone base station, seen behind Sweldens. (AP Photo/Alcatel-Lucent)

The “Light Radio” technology, which will be tested by a number of mobile operators around the world including Orange, Verizon in the US and the world’s largest network, China Mobile, could halve network operating costs and do the same for power demands, said Wim Sweldens, head of Alcatel-Lucent company’s mobile business at a presentation in London.

Read the rest of this entry »

Honolulu TV Tower to see last sunrise

Amongst those of us who are in telecommunications, America has two tower icons.

However, one will end up in the junk yard this week and the other might gain national prominence and be assured longevity.

For those located in Hawaii, or in Tennessee both are landmarks that are easily remembered and well known.

The Honolulu TV Tower has been a landmark since 1962

Read the rest of this entry »

If Bush had tried this…

The media would have had an absolute field day.

Never mind warrant-less wire tapping. What the Obama Administration is pushing for is knowing where you are via your cellphone 24/7

And they aren’t stopping there either!

The administration has also asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reverse its August ruling requiring court warrants to affix GPS devices to vehicles to track their every move. The administration said Americans should expect no privacy “in the totality of his or her movements in public places.

Emphasis mine
A full PDF of the hearing can be found here and a recitation of the rebuttal found here

Folks it is time to step up and pay attention.

No matter who you voted for or what group your affiliated with, this is wrong, period.

Steve Jobs: Out of Touch with Reality

“When AT&T wants to add a cell tower in, oh, Texas or somewhere, it takes three weeks to get approval in a typical community. To get a cell phone tower in San Francisco, it takes something like three years,” – Steve Jobs

Steve sadly needs to stick with making computer, phones and music devices as he has absolutely no clue what so ever what it takes to set up a tower system.

Having worked as a climber, installer, RF Sweeper, and Market manager I can tell you first hand that in over 10 years of working in the cellular industry I can count on one hand the amount of times I have cleared permitting in under 2 months, let alone 3 weeks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Technician dies after Fall in Philadelphia

I hate hearing about this, but the job is extremely dangerous for a reason. All too often people take short cuts that they shouldn’t thinking they are bigger than life. They aren’t. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case here and rather just freak accident. Which does not make it any easier on the family.

From Wireless Estimator

Philadelphia police say Champion Communications employee Stanley Zarzecki, 32, of Deptford, N.J. was working on transmission lines on the roof of a nine-story building at 6250 Walnut Street at about 9 p.m. when he reportedly slipped on the gravel roof and fell over 120 feet to his death.

Clearwire, which is majority owned by Sprint/Nextel, oftentimes co-locates their equipment on existing Sprint sites.

Sprint/Nextel has an 11-foot by 22-foot equipment platform on the Walnut Park Plaza rooftop approximately three feet from the parapet wall which is one-foot or less in height. It reportedly does not have any guardrails.

Other wireless tenants on the rooftop include AT&T and T-Mobile.

Authorities have not released where Zarzecki was working when he fell.

He is survived by his wife Cara (nee Voll), two sons Stanley J., Jr. and Zachery Xaiver; his mother Diane of Phila. and a brother Eric of Phila.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to The Stanley J. Zarzecki, Jr. Children Fund C/O TD Bank, 1450 Clements Bridge Road, Deptford, N.J. 08096.

Tower Tech killed in Mountain Home, AR

From AGL

Tragedy has struck in a small Midwestern town. An 18-year-old technician fell from a cell tower on May 28, in Mountain Home, Ark., as he and three other crewmembers finished up work for the day on the structure. Medical personnel and sheriff’s officers responded, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The victim, Ethan Wayne Ray Hutchinson of Missouri, was a part of a crew employed by Techsico Enterprise Solutions, which had been contracted to do an upgrade and repairs to the cellular tower. Hutchinson fell more than 200 feet from near the top of the tower and died upon impact, according to Sheriff John Montgomery.

Hutchinson’s body is scheduled to be sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy, which is routine in industrial-type accidents. The accident scene has been turned over to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigators to determine the exact cause of the accident.

Founded in 2001, Techsico is headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., with additional offices in Dallas; Houston; Augusta, Ga.; and Las Vegas.

Radio Intercepts

Sad day I loved Zell and often wished he would have ran for President…

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